Thune's gun amendment hits targetThis past week, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., was playing the Capitol Hill game as he’s learned to play it and found himself at the center of an intense nationwide controversy. Some controversy wasn’t unexpected over Thune’s proposal that states ought to honor other states’ concealed carry gun permits, said Thune spokeswoman Andi Fouberg. She credits some New York politicians with stoking this from a flicker to a bonfire.
By: Denise Ross, The Daily Republic
This past week, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., was playing the Capitol Hill game as he’s learned to play it and found himself at the center of an intense nationwide controversy.
Some controversy wasn’t unexpected over Thune’s proposal that states ought to honor other states’ concealed carry gun permits, said Thune spokeswoman Andi Fouberg. She credits some New York politicians with stoking this from a flicker to a bonfire.
The measure fell two votes short of passing, but you probably already know that, since it was reported on the nightly national newscasts and in all the newspapers.
Thune had introduced his bill, really an amendment to a defense spending bill, late on a Thursday. By the following week, several major newspapers had scorned the concealed carry permit legislation and the story was threatening to eclipse President Obama’s push for health care reform and news that Michael Jackson’s death had morphed into a manslaughter case.
Fouberg credits Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for whipping up the story over the weekend.
“This probably garnered more national attention than was typical. I don’t think that was our doing,” Fouberg said.
While Thune and his staff didn’t expect the proposal to go completely unnoticed, they were taken aback a bit by how quickly and intensely debate heated up, largely because the proposal is not new. Thune already had introduced the measure as a standalone bill, as another senator had done in the past.
“You’d think it dropped out of the sky,” Fouberg said. “The bill’s been out there forever. I don’t know if it was the perfect storm, but it was a storm of some sort.”
Much of this story is rooted in Senate rules. As a standalone piece of legislation, Thune’s concealed carry bill is likely to languish in a lonely corner, since the Democrats who control the chamber aren’t terribly interested in getting it passed. As an amendment to a must-pass spending bill, it forces every senator to cast a vote sure to be scrutinized by both sides of the issue. (Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., voted in favor of it.)
Furthermore, Fouberg contends Senate Democrats opened the gate to Thune’s amendment by first tacking on a measure to expand the definition of a hate crime. Under Senate tradition, defense spending bills are usually exempt from unrelated amendments. But once the Democrats had done it, the Republicans followed suit.
After the 58-39 defeat — it needed 60 votes to pass — Thune’s concealed carry permit bill will fade from the headlines. But I look for this to be the centerpiece of the gun debate for the foreseeable future. When an amendment comes so close to passing and works up such spirited debate, it can only be a winner for those on Thune’s side.
While the National Rifle Association pushes for this amendment to be introduced again and again, it will raise a ton of money. We haven’t seen the last of this one.
Denise Ross writes and publishes Hoghouseblog.com. She writes from Rapid City about South Dakota’s congressional delegation. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org